While transiting to Western Australia for Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2019, the guided missile frigate HMAS Newcastle separated from the OCEAN EXPLORER Task Group to undertake patrols of key oil infrastructure in the Bass Strait as part of Navy’s national maritime security commitment.
Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Anita Sellick, described the importance of the patrols to the security of Australian maritime resources.
“Royal Australian Navy ships and aircraft routinely patrol key oil and gas infrastructure as we undertake transits throughout the nation’s exclusive economic zone,” Commander Sellick said.
“These are not one-off events, but a deliberate part of Navy’s persistent and sustained efforts to ensure the security of natural resources and the people who dedicate their lives working offshore.
“The influence of a maritime task group consisting of a landing helicopter dock, a replenishment ship and a guided missile frigate is multiplied when individual units are able to detach to undertake independent tasks.”
Maritime Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Ben Liddell, was Newcastle’s Officer of the Watch for the passage during which the ship patrolled and made contact with a number of oil rigs.
“Our passage took us into proximity with 15 rigs and we got in touch with about six of the manned platforms,” Lieutenant Liddell said.
“They were happy to see us in their area and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to interact with fellow mariners.
“The experience was unusual in that as soon as we completed our patrol we re-joined the task group and were straight back into anti-submarine and high end warfare exercises.”
Newcastle’s patrol was supported by a MRH-90 maritime support helicopter operating from HMAS Canberra, the flagship of the OCEAN EXPLORER Task Group.
Following OCEAN EXPLORER, Newcastle will deploy to South Asia, before returning to her Fleet Base East home port, where she is due to decommission later this year.